New HIV/AIDS medication effectively combats virus – NAPS Programme Manager
─ Improved drug regimen to treat adults living with HIV
To boost Guyana’s efforts to further minimise the spread of the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV), the Ministry of Health through the National AIDS Programme Secretariat (NAPS) has introduced an improved drug regimen to treat adults living with the disease.
The new HIV medication, which comprises Tenofovir, Lamivudine, and Dolutegravir (TLD), is one of the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) best recommended Antiretrovirals (ARVs).
The drug complements the ministry’s already robust programme, which includes the roll out of comprehensive pre-exposure prophylaxis (PrEP) and self-testing for patients, among other initiatives
According to NAPS Programme Manager, Dr Tarique Jagnarine, treatment with this new drug has proven to be extremely effective and has significantly transformed the system.
Dr Jagnarine made these comments on the weekly ‘Health Matters’ programme on the ministry’s Facebook page.
“It’s a drug where you see the rapid viral load suppression- that’s the number of copies of the HIV in an individual- coming down very fast, in a matter of 14 days, once you stay on the treatment. Your CD4 count, that’s the cell that fights off the virus, that goes up very fast as well,” the doctor explained.
Fewer side effects and a reduced risk of becoming resistant to the drug are other benefits to be derived for persons who utilise the treatment, according to Dr. Jagnarine
Noting that close to 9,700 persons are living with the virus locally, Dr Jagnarine highlighted that of that number, some 6,800 are enrolled in various HIV/AIDS clinics, and are receiving the treatment.
An innovative programme called the ‘Lost to follow up’ has been implemented to reach the other 2,900 people who are not enrolled in any health facility to access treatment.
“Through this programme we find individuals who are positive and we bring them back. The care and treatment programme is so robust that we just don’t look at only giving you treatment. We look at giving you services such as moral support, public assistance services, we even offer you food hampers, and we also link you to receive counseling,” the NAPS Programme Manager related.
Dr Jagnarine also outlined that new medication, treatment, and strategies are being implemented to make the system more adaptable and workable for persons who are living with the virus.
Over the years, the Government of Guyana through the Ministry of Health and the NAPS, has been working assiduously to ensure the HIV treatment programme delivers the highest quality of care to persons living with HIV.